« PreviousContinue »
In p. 74. a. b. Mr. W. represents me as supposing, that in the sacrament of the Lord's supper, both the covenanting parties, viz. Christ and the communicant, seal to the truth of the communicant's faith; or that both seal to this as true, that the communicant does receive Christ. Whereas, by me, no such thing was ever thought; nor is any thing said that has such an aspect. What I say, is very plain and express, (p. 75.) “ That Christ by his minister professes his part of the covenant, presents himself, and professes the willingness of his heart to be their's who receive him. That on the other hand, the communicant, in receiving the offered symbols, professes his part in the covenant, and the willingness of his heart to receive Christ who is offered." How different is this from both parties sealing to the truth of the communicant's faith.
In p. 76, 77, and 80. he greatly misrepresents my argument from I Cor. xi. 28. Let a man examine himself, &c. as though I supposed, the Greek word translated examine, must necessarily imply an examination to approbation; that it signifies to approve; and that a man's examination must mean his approving himself to himself to be sanctified. This representation he makes over and over, and builds his answer to the argument upon it; and in opposition to this he says, (p. 77. c.) "Wherever the word means to examine to approbation, it is not used in its natural sense, but metonymically." Whereas, there is not the least foundation for such a representation: No such thing is said or suggested by me, as if I supposed that the meaning of the word is to approve or to examine to approbation. What I say is, that it properly signifies proving or trying a thing, whether it be true and of the right sort. (p. 77. d.) And in the same place, I expressly speak of the word (in the manner Mr. W. does,) as not used in its natural sense, but metonymically, when it is used to signify approve. So that Mr. W.'s representation is not only diverse from, but contrary to what I say. Indeed I suppose (as well I may) that when the apostle directs persons to try themselves with respect to their qualifications for the Lord's supper, he would not have them come, if upon trial they find themselves not qualified. But it would be ridiculous to say, that I therefore suppose the meaning of the word, try or examine, is to approve, when it is evident that the trying is only in order to knowing whether a thing is to be approved or disapproved.
In p. 98. b. on the argument from John's baptism, Mr. W. alters my words, bringing them the better to comport with the odious representation he had made of my opinion, viz. that I required giving an account of experiences, as a term of communion; he puts in words as mine, which are not mine, and distinguishes them with marks of quotation; charging me with representing it as "probable that John had as much time to
inquire into their experiences as into their doctrinal knowledge." Whereas, my words are these, (p. 101. a.) "He had as much opportunity to inquire into the credibility of their profession, as he had to inquire into their doctrinal knowledge and moral character."
In p. 118. d. (and to the like purpose, p. 134. c.) our author represents me, and others of my principles, as holding, "That the gospel does peremptorily sentence men to damnation for eating and drinking without sanctifying grace." But surely Mr. W. would have done well to have referred to the place in my Inquiry, where any thing is said that has such an appearance. For, I find nothing that I have said in that book, or any other writing of mine, about the gospel peremptorily sentencing such men to damnation, or signifying how far I thought they were exposed to damnation, or expressing my sentiments more or less about the matter.
In p. 130. e. and 131. a, Mr. W. says, "When one sees with what epithets of honour Mr. Edwards in some parts of his book has complimented Mr. Stoddard, it must look like a strange medley to tack to them;-That he was a weak beggar of his question; a supposer of what was to be proved; taking for granted the point in controversy; inconsistent with himself; ridiculously contradicting his own arguments." These expressions which Mr. W. speaks of as tacked to those honourable epithets, he represents as expressions which I had used concerning Mr. Stoddard. And his readers that have not consulted my book, will doubtless take it so from his manner of representation. Whereas, the truth is, no one of these expressions is used concerning Mr. S. any where in my book; nor is there one disrespectful word spoken of him there. All the ground Mr. W. had to make such a representation, was, that in answering arguments against my opinion, I endeavoured to shew them to be weak, (though I do not find that I used that epithet,) and certainly for one to pretend to answer arguments, and yet allow them to be strong, would be to shew himself to be very weak. In answering some of these arguments, and endeavouring to shew wherein the inconclusiveness of them lay, I have sometimes taken notice that the defect lay in what is called begging the question, or supposing the thing to be proved. And if I had said so concerning Mr. S-d's arguments, speaking of them as his, I do not know why it should be represented as any personal reflection, or unhandsome dishonourable treatment of him. Every inconclusive argument is weak; and the business of a disputant is to shew wherein the weakness lies; But to speak of arguments as weak, is not to call men weak. All the ground Mr. W. has to speak of me as saying, that Mr. S. ridiculously contradicted his own arguments. is, that (in p. 11.`
citing some passages out of Mr. S-d's Appeal, I use these words: "But how he reconciled these passages with the rest of his treatise, I would modestly say, I must confess myself at a loss." And particularly I observed, that I could not see how they consist with what he says, p. 16; and so proceed to mention one thing which appears to me not well to consist with them. But certainly this is not indecently to reflect on Mr. S. any more than Mr. W. indecently reflects on the FIRST REFORMERS, in his answer to Mr. Croswell, (p. 74, 75.) where, speaking of their doctrine of a particular persuasion as of the essence of saving faith, he says, They are found inconsistent with themselves, and their doctrine lighter than vanity. And again, (p. 82.) If ever, (says Mr. W.) any men were confuted from their own concessions, these divines are. And more to the like purpose. Which gives me a fair occasion to express the like wonder at him, as he does at me, (p. 131. a.) but I forbear personal reflections.
Mr. W. (in the same p. d.) has these words; "And to say, that all unsanctified men do profess and seal their consent to the covenant of grace in the Lord's supper, when they know at the same time they do not consent to it, nor have their heart at all in the affair, is something worse than begging the question"that is, as I suppose, (the same that he charged me with before,) telling a manifest untruth. By which he plainly suggests, that I have said thus. Whereas, I nowhere say, nor in any respect signify that I suppose, all unsanctified communicants do know that they do not consent to the covenant of grace. I never made any doubt, but that multitudes of unsanctified communicants are deceived, and think they do consent to it.
In p. 132. d. he says of me, "The author endeavours to shew, that the admitting unsanctified persons tends to the ruin and reproach of the Christian church; and to the ruin of the persons admitted." But how widely different is this from what I express in the place he refers to? (Inq. p. 121. c.) That which I say there, is, that "by express liberty given, to open the door to as many as please, of those who have no visibility of real saintship, and make no profession of it, nor pretension to it, is a method which tends to the ruin and great reproach of the Christian church, and also to the ruin of the persons admitted." I freely grant, and shew abundantly in my book, it is never to be expected, that all unsanctified men can be kept out, by the most exact attendance on the rules of Christ, by those that admit members.
In p. 136. d. Mr. W. wholly without grounds, speaks of me as representing, that "unconverted men make pretension to nothing but what God's enemies have, remaining in open and avowed rebellion against him." Whereas, I suppose that some
natural men do profess, and profess truly, many things, which those have not, who are open and avowed enemies of God. They may truly profess that sort of moral sincerity, in many things belonging to morality and religion, which avowed enemies have not: nor is there any sentence or word in my book, which implies or intimates the contrary.
In p. 141. c. d. Mr. W. evidently insinuates, that I am one of those who " If men live never so strictly conformable to the laws of the gospel, and never so diligently seek their own salvation, to outward appearance, yet do not stick to speak of them, and act openly towards them, as persons giving no more public evidence, that they are not the enemies of God and haters of Jesus Christ, than the very worst of the heathen." But surely every one that has read my book, every one that knows my constant conduct, and manner of preaching, as well as writing, and how much I have written, said, and done, against judging and censuring persons of an externally moral and religious behaviour, must know how injurious this representation of me is.
Instances of the second thing mentioned as exceptionable in Mr. W.'s method of managing this controversy; viz. His misrepresenting what is said in the writings of others, that he supposes favour his opinion.
Perhaps instances enough of this have already been taken notice of; yet I would now mention some others.
In what he says in reply to my answer to the eighth objection, he says, (p. 108.) " Mr. Stoddard does not say, If sanctifying grace be necessary to a person's lawful partaking of the Lord's supper, then God would have given some certain rule, whereby those who are to admit them, may know whether they have such grace or not." Mr. W. there intimates (as the reader may see,) as if Mr. S. spake so, that it is to be understood disjunctively, meaning, he would either have given some certain rule to the church who admit them, or else to the persons themselves: so that by one means or other, the Lord's supper might be restrained to converted men. And he exclaims against me for representing as though Mr. Stoddard's argument were concerning a certain rule, whereby those who are to admit them, may know whether they have grace, (see the foregoing page,) and speaks of it as nothing akin to Mr. S.'s argument. Now let the reader take notice of Mr. S.'s words, and see whether his argument be not something akin to this. He says ex68
pressly, (Appeal, p. 75.) "God does not bind his church to impossibilities. If he had made such an ordinance, he would give gifts to his church, to distinguish sincere men from hypocrites, whereby the ordinance might have been attended.— The minor is also evident: He has given no such rule to his church, whereby it may be restrained to converted men. This appears, because by the rule that they are to go by, they are allowed to give the Lord's supper to many unconverted men. For all visible signs are common to men converted, and unconverted." So that Mr. S. in fact does say, If sanctifying grace be necessary to a person's lawful partaking of the Lord's supper, then God would have given some certain rule, whereby the church [those who are to admit them] may know, whether they have grace, or not. Though Mr. W. denies it, and says, this is nothing akin to Mr. S.'s argument; contrary to the plain'est fact.
In p. 99, Mr. W. replying to my answer to the sixth objection, misrepresents Mr. Hudson, in the following passage. "This, (i. e. baptism,) says Mr. Hudson, makes them members of the body of Christ. And as for a particular explicit covenant, besides the general imposed on churches, I find no mention of it, no example, nor warrant for it in all the scripture."-Here Mr. W. is still manifestly endeavouring to discredit my doctrine of an explicit owning the covenant of grace; and he so manages and alters Mr. Hudson's words, as naturally leads the reader to suppose, that Mr. Hudson speaks against this: whereas, he says not a word about it. What Mr. H. speaks of, is not an explicit owning the covenant of grace, or baptismal covenant; but a particular church-covenant, by which a particular society bind themselves explicitly, one to another, jointly to carry on the public worship. Mr. Hudson's words are, (p. 19.) "I dare not make a particular explicit holy covenant to be the form of a particular church, as this description seemeth to do; because I find no mention of any such covenant, besides the general imposed on churches, nor example, nor warrant for it in all the scripture." And then afterwards Mr. Hudson says, "but it is the general covenant sealed by baptism, and not this, that makes them members of the body of Christ." Mr. W. by citing distant passages in Mr. Hudson, and joining them, in his own way, by particles and conjunctions, which Mr. Hudson does not use, and leaving out these words-To be the form of a particular church, as this description seemeth to do-quite blinds the mind of his reader, as to Mr. Hudson's true sense, which is nothing to Mr. W.'s purpose. Mr. Hudson says not a word here against, or about an express or explicit covenanting, or owning the covenant in my sense: but in other places, in the same book, he speaks of it, and for it, as necessary for all Christians. Thus, (p. 69. b. c.)